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MasterChef New Zealand


Steve's blog - episode eight

Get the winning recipes from this week's episode here.


Curry in a hurry!

The Top 7 confront the spicy Mystery Box Indian Challenge, and to make it even harder, all the spices are unlabelled.

AND some of them have to cook goat!

I must admit I've never cooked goat before, but it's meat so it can't be too hard, right? I notice that Nadia mentions that she doesn't like using recipes, so this Mystery Box Challenge suits her to a tee - she reminds me a lot of Kirsty in Series One last year. Kirsty never liked cooking from recipes either - she preferred the creative challenge of inventing recipes. So let's see what Nadia and the other contestants can do - 4 dishes in 90 minutes to show the judges the 'Essence of India'.

The first hurdle for a lot of them is the unlabelled spices - this stumps a few, and lack of knowledge once again rears its' ugly head. Not knowing your coriander seeds from your cumin seeds can take you down, so I imagine a few of them would have been sweating bullets there for a while. And Michael decides to use an egg in his potato dish, which makes the judges look at each with disturbed faces.

I'm beginning to think Michael is out of his depth here - maybe he's just too fresh-faced and lacks the understanding of different foods and techniques to go any further in this competition? We shall see..

Stu misses out on his vegetable dish, and is stressing out. And the judges hover over him and ask leading questions - I recall when they did that to me in some of the challenges last year, grilling you on what your '5% magic' is and asking why you're using certain ingredients. It just makes you second-guess yourself, and can really upset your balance. I guess that's why they do it, to create drama and to make you stand up and defend your food. But man, it stresses you out! So I fully understand how you feel Stu - hang in there mate and keep going!

Both Jax and Anthony seem very confident - and Anthony in particular seems overly confident. A danger sign perhaps? Maybe when you're overly confident you get a bit lackadaisical and take your eye off the ball so to speak, and I can see this happening with Anthony.

Jax nails it yet again with some great dishes that the judges rave over - she has really come on in leaps and bounds, and I now rate her as one of the leading contenders to take this competition out.

Anthony has a bad day at the office, and commits the one pet hate of the judges, even from Season One - and that is lack of seasoning. That one offence can really get them riled up, and Josh lets Anthony know in no uncertain terms what he thinks of Anthony's dishes. His scorching comments are taken well by Anthony though - I know what it's like to stand there and get your culinary creations destroyed by the acid tongues of this country's cooking elite, and it's not nice at all! To stand there and bear the brunt of their disdain for your food feels terrible, and you pretty much want to start crying! So good on you for taking it well Anthony, I feel for you mate!

Cameron's food is lacking again - he doesn't seem to like cooking anything that is outside his comfort zone, or outside his knowledge, and that really worries me.

Michael serves up his worst food yet to the judges, and T-Lee does no better. Nadia does a great job, and Stu, who was totally worried sick and thought he was going home produces an absolute stunner! You the man! The judges can't get enough - this guy obviously has some serious talent. I am constantly surprised by what this competition pulls out in people, and Stu is no exception - pressure creates diamonds, and what a time to do it! Well done mate.

Jax wins overall with all four dishes a stand-out. Huge lack of knowledge of other cultures' food shows here with the bottom three, with Cameron again failing to impress, but I don't think Anthony had a lack of knowledge, just a lack of taste, and after being so so confident through the challenge, gets left 'up the Ganges without a paddle' and gets sent packing by the judges. Another great cook gone-burgers!

So we've now halved our original 12 down to the Top 6 - we're whittling our way down to the final, and with only 4 episodes to go, you'd have to be starting to think you can win it now. I know when I made the Top 6, it was a huge goal to do that, and once I made that, I started to let myself think I could win the whole thing.

All of a sudden it got serious with me. And with every ongoing challenge there's less and less room for error. So it gets harder and harder for the contestants, but better and better for us to watch! So hold on people, there's still plenty of fireworks left! And it looks like a dessert challenge next week - something close to my heart. So stay tuned, and have a great week!

Till then, happy cooking!

Steve Juergens